Life as a Midshipman: Rattler Battalion
The first experience for incoming fourth-class midshipmen is orientation. This is a week long program that introduces new midshipmen to the US Navy and Marine Corps. During orientation, midshipmen are instructed in NROTC policies, basic drill, uniform standards, grooming standards, and physical readiness. Midshipmen are introduced to the different career opportunities the Department of the Navy and Marine Corps has to offer. The bonds formed at orientation often last through the midshipman’s four years in the rattler battalion and beyond.
While new midshipmen get familiar with classes and college life, they also become more familiar with the Navy and Marine Corps. Fourth-class midshipmen first learn to lead by following. New midshipmen take classes in basic military knowledge and history. Along with the rest of the Battalion, they develop their knowledge of drill and overall physical readiness through physical training sessions and a weekly afternoon drill period. The best naval officers are well-rounded individuals. New midshipmen are encouraged to get involved with the many opportunities that their Universities offer. A student can choose from a variety of volunteer organizations, intramural sports, student groups and clubs, as well as fraternities and sororities to choose from. The Naval ROTC rattler Battalion is a great resource during this time. Class advisors and fellow battalion members help ensure that the transition to college life is going smoothly both academically and personally.
CORTRAMID stands for "Career Orientation and Training of Midshipmen". During this four-week period, scholarship midshipmen are introduced to many of the warfare communities within the Department of the Navy. Midshipmen spend one week at each of the following locations; a surface ship, an aviation squadron, a submarine, and a Marines Corps base. CORTRAMID is not only an opportunity to travel and get hands-on training; it is also a great opportunity to meet midshipmen from across the country. CORTRAMID is known to be one of the most enjoyable summer cruises.
Midshipmen have now had an entire year to decide whether or not Naval ROTC and the Navy/Marine Corps are right for them. Once a midshipman has sworn in at the beginning of sophomore year, leaving the program will mean repayment of scholarship money and/or enlistment in the Navy/Marine Corps to recover the cost of training and educating the midshipman has received. It is during this year that midshipmen will take on increased leadership opportunities.
SECOND CLASS CRUISE:
All rising second-class Navy midshipmen on scholarship will go on a second-class cruise. Midshipmen will spend a month with a ship or submarine. Often times these ships and subs are deployed and underway. During the cruise, the midshipmen will be assigned a "running mate"; the running mate is usually an experienced enlisted Sailor. The midshipman will essentially be a part of the crew and will gain an understanding of life as an enlisted Sailor. Marine Option midshipmen on scholarship will go to the Mountain Warfare Training Center in Pickel Meadow, California.
During the junior year, a midshipman will be involved in the day-to-day operation of the Battalion. At Florida A&M University rattler battalion, it is the midshipmen who are responsible for planning and carrying out events. It is also during this year that Marine Option midshipmen will prepare themselves for the rigors of Officer Candidate School. All those seeking a commission in the United States Marine Corps will attend OCS in Quantico, VA during the summer before their senior year.
FIRST CLASS CRUISE:
While Marine Option midshipmen are busy at OCS in Quantico, Navy Option midshipmen are busy with a summer program of their own. All Navy Option midshipmen must attend a first-class cruise. The first-class cruise serves to give Navy midshipmen insight into the life of a junior officer. Again, midshipmen are paired with a running mate, this time a junior officer. Midshipmen may complete their first class cruise aboard a ship, aboard a submarine, or with an aviation squadron (either ashore or afloat). Once again, midshipmen selecting ships or submarines often make port visits. Midshipmen are also offer the opportunity to spend their first class cruise attached to a foreign navy. Midshipmen must apply for the foreign exchange cruise and if selected they will then receive orders to travel overseas to participate in any operations the foreign navy they are attached to is performing.
Senior year is an exciting time for ROTC midshipmen. Of course, seniors often hold leadership billets and determine the success of the ROTC unit. Furthermore, first-class midshipmen select which community they would like to join in the Navy. Service selections are sent out during the first semester and results are returned early in the second semester. Marine Option midshipmen will to receive their MOS upon the completion of TBS after their commissioning.
Commissioning is a new beginning. It is a time where new officers can take what they have learned and apply it to life in the fleet. New Ensigns and Second Lieutenants head off to their next duty station, bringing with them all that they have learned from the Florida A&M University rattler battalion.